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UK Embassy Lights a Virtual Candle on Weibo on June 4th, Gesture Instantly Backfires

A virtual candle posted on the UK embassy account was meant to commemorate June 4, but Weibo users turned it into something else.

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The virtual candle was meant for the annual – heavily censored – commemoration of the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, but Chinese netizens responded with ‘RIP the Queen’.

On June 3rd, What’s on Weibo reported that various Weibo emoji disappeared this week in light of the June 4 anniversary and heightened censorship.

One of the Weibo emoji to have been removed from the platform’s collection of frequently used emoticons is the candle [蜡烛], which is often used to commemorate, mourn, or pay respects to people and incidents on social media.

On Friday, June 4th, one of the times in the year when censorship on Chinese social media intensifies – June 4 marks the violent crackdown of the Tiananmen student protests in 1989 – the official Weibo account of the UK Embassy in China (@英国驻华使馆) published a noteworthy image, namely that of a burning candle.

The Weibo account of the UK Embassy in Beijing has over 1.8 million followers. On Twitter, the ‘UK in China’ account posted the same image.

In order to ‘justify’ the image of the candle posted by UK officials, the hashtag “The Queen of the United Kingdom Passed Away” started making its rounds on Chinese social media. By Friday night, local time, the hashtag page was viewed over 16 million times and the comments started to get wilder (#英国女王因病去世#).

Some people suggested the candle was lit because the Queen had passed away due to illness, others said the death was due to childbirth complications, and then some wrote it was after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Meanwhile, the original post by the Embassy has disappeared from Weibo at the time of writing. It is unclear if the post was removed by online censors, or if the UK Embassy deleted its own post soon after it backfired.

On Twitter, Christina Scott, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Beijing, claimed that the image of the candle was “censored within 20 minutes.”

UK-China relations have seen major shifts in recent times, especially since the UK banned Huawei from British 5G networks and also stepped up its criticism of China’s treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Beijing’s national security law covering Hong Kong – which are seen as domestic matters in China.

In light of the various events that have hurt the ties between the UK and China, the British embassy’s virtual candle on June 4th was not necessarily perceived as a ‘friendly gesture’ by many.

Many Chinese netizens found the online stream of wild fabrications funny, although others were left confused and wanted to know if something had really happened to the Queen.

Hu Xijin (胡锡进), Chinese journalist and Global Times editor-in-chief, also responded to the ‘RIP the Queen’ trend on his Weibo account. In his post, Hu suggested that the very fact that Chinese netizens joked about Queen Elizabeth is the price the UK Embassy needs to pay for its ‘provocative’ post. He also warned the American and British embassies that they should learn from this incident to “thoroughly understand the actual feelings of the majority of Chinese people, and [to understand] how their perceptions have become so out of touch with China’s reality.”

Hu’s post received hundreds of replies, with some praising how Weibo users have found a way to “cure ills with poison” (以毒攻毒, ‘fight fire with fire’).

In the midst of all controversy, the ‘T-word,’ Tiananmen, was completely left out of the online discussions.

By Manya Koetse & Miranda Barnes

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Stories that are authored by the What's on Weibo Team are the stories that multiple authors contributed to. Please check the names at the end of the articles to see who the authors are.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Godfree Roberts

    June 7, 2021 at 2:03 am

    June 4 marks the violent crackdown of the Tiananmen student protests in 1989?

    No, it marks Western governments’ failure to provoke a violent crackdown of the Tiananmen student protests in 1989.

    Just as they did after similarly failing in Hong Kong recently, they invented a ‘violent crackdown on pro-democracy’ dissidents and went home, declaring victory.

    There was no bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests.

    The kids were home, safe in bed, by 7:30 am.

    Hardly surprising, since they were the cream of China’s young intelligentsia and had enjoyed front-page support from the People’s Daily throughout the six-week demonstration.

    The Tiananmen demonstrations were the biggest media event of the decade and every foreign newspaper, radio and TV station on earth had reporters there, day and night. None saw or heard violence in the square. Because there was none.

    There was, however, a riot in Chang’An Road, where thugs murdered a dozen unarmed cops and soldiers.

    Two weeks later, on July 19, Beijing Party Secretary Li Ximing, delivered the results of the enquiry, “More than 7,000 were wounded or injured and two hundred forty-one killed, including thirty-six students, ten soldiers and thirteen People’s Armed Police during a riot in Chang’An Road.”

    The leader of that riot, Wang Yam, was exfiltrated through Hong Kong, given British citizenship, and settled in London.

    In 2006, for the first time in modern British history Wang was tried for murder in camera; the Crown Prosecutor banned all media coverage and even speculation about the case.

    Wang was found guilty of bludgeoning an elderly man to death in order to rob him. MI6, Britain’s intelligence agency, later admitted he was their agent.

    And that’s the real story of Tiananmen.

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China Memes & Viral

The ‘Zhenlouqi’ Floor Shaker: The Chinese Noise Machine to Take Revenge on Your Noisy Upstairs Neighbors

Noisy upstairs neighbors? The zhenlouqi is a way more effective revenge than hitting your broom against the ceiling.

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How to deal with noisy upstairs neighbors? Some Chinese e-commerce sellers say they have found the solution for you: get back at them by making their floors vibrate! The zhènlóuqì is marketed as a ‘magical tool’, but in reality, it seems to only make problems worse.

It is called the zhènlóuqì (震楼器), the ‘floor shaker’, a device designed to get back at noisy upstairs neighbours. Over the past weeks, the zhènlóuqì has been popping up more frequently in stories on Chinese social media.

Due to various local Covid-related lockdowns across China over the past weeks, many people have again been spending a lot of time at home. For those living in residential apartments, neighbors making noise can be a real nuisance – especially if it is the upstairs neighbors who can leave you feeling powerless and annoyed with their heavy walking, stomping, pushing chairs, or loud music.

To put an end to the suffering of downstairs neighbors, there is the ‘floor shaker’ (also called ‘vibration motor’ 振动马达), an electrical device that can be attached to the ceiling and will drive your upstairs neighbors crazy by creating floor vibrations.

Image by 快资讯new.

The device was first sold on Chinese e-commerce site Taobao in 2015 as a “magical object” to deal with noisy upstairs neighbors and has become more popular over the past few years with many different online stores selling them. Its original intended use is actually not to torment neighbors; electric vibration motors are used in many different industrial applications, including in product quality control and mining operations.

Together with a supporting pole, a small zhènlóuqì can be placed against the ceiling. Once it is turned on (remote control included) the floor above the ceiling will start to shake.

Floor shaker advertisement.

Unsurprisingly, various social media stories and videos prove that the zhènlóuqì is not really the magical device it claims to be, as it often only worsens the relations between neighbors.

One video posted on Weibo recently showed security footage from a residential building where one man angrily came to the door of his downstairs neighbor with a long knife, asking if they had installed a ‘floor shaker.’ The woman at the door then answered that there’s always noise coming from his apartment, with him responding that all they hear every day is the vibrating of the floor shaker. The man’s partner then suddenly appears out of nowhere and the altercation turns into a physical fight.

Another story is that of Mrs. Chen who moved into a new apartment in Hangzhou in 2020 together with her husband, little son and mother-in-law. Although the family was leading a normal life without making a lot of noise, the downstairs neighbor kept complaining about their stomping and the moving of furniture. Although they tried to be as quiet as they could, the downstairs neighbor eventually installed a floor shaker which would be turned on every night from 8 pm to midnight. Besides the fact that the family was bothered by the shaking floor, the noise also stressed them out and affected their sleep.

A floor shaking device being inspected. Image via 163.com.

Although the use of the zhènlóuqì is not necessarily illegal in itself, it does create a noise problem and also might do damage to the structures of the buildings – enough reasons for neighbors to call the police when they think their downstairs neighbors have installed such a device.

This is probably also why zhènlóuqì has now been flagged as a ‘sensitive word’ on Taobao, although the device can still be bought under other names for approximately 168 yuan ($26). The device is often not advertised as ‘taking revenge on neighbors,’ but as an effective method to create a quiet home, picturing a sleeping baby or someone relaxing in bed while the zhènlóuqì is turned on.

Some ‘floor shaker’ models even come with wifi and an app, so users can turn it on via their smartphone and annoy their neighbors – even when they’re not home themselves.

Another ‘magical object’ that recently went viral on Chinese social media is an ‘anti-square-dancing device‘ that helps local residents find some peace and quiet when dancing grannies take over their public squares with loud music.

The device is a remote control that can stop any speaker at a distance of 50-80 meters, leading to much confusion among those dancing on the streets why their music keeps stopping.

Although installing a zhènlóuqì might lead to worsening relations between neighbors, there are many people on Weibo expressing the wish to buy one: “I am lying awake again because of the noise the upstairs lady is making, I really want to buy one!”

With the ‘floor shaker’ becoming more well-known, the threat of buying one hopefully should be enough to make a noisy upstairs neighbor calm down.

For those who feel installing such a device would definitely be too extreme, there is always the classic broom or even a special extendable soft hammer sold on Taobao – which is also much cheaper than the zhènlóuqì– to make your neighbors aware that they are being too loud.

By Manya Koetse

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

Disgruntled Woman Cuts Up 32 Wedding Dresses in Chongqing Bridal Salon

The woman ruined 32 wedding dresses – worth at least $11,000 – because she wanted her $550 deposit back.

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On January 9, an argument between a female customer and a bridal store staff member escalated when the angry customer took out scissors and ruined more a total of 32 wedding dresses by cutting them up.

A video of the incident went viral on Chinese social media, showing the woman taking out wedding gown after wedding gown and cutting them with scissors. The person filming can be heard saying “Think clearly, these dresses cost thousands [yuan],” with the woman responding: “Thousands? Even it’s ten-thousands, it doesn’t matter.”

The incident happened in the city’s Jiangjin District at a store that sells bridal gowns and also offers wedding services. According to Chinese media site Sohu.com, the wedding store manager told reporters that the woman named Jiang first made arrangements with the bridal salon in April 2021 for her October 5th wedding – she booked a wedding package for 8000 yuan ($1260).

Four months later, in August, the woman asked the bridal shop if her wedding arrangements could be postponed. When the woman came to the shop again in November, saying she wanted to cancel all arrangements and get her down payment of 3500 yuan ($550) back, the shop refused due to their policy of not refunding advanced payments. They did offer to instead provide some arrangements for a child’s 100th-day celebration, as the woman was allegedly expecting a baby.

Although the woman initially agreed with this, she suddenly returned to the shop on January 9th and started acting out. In her anger, she proceeded to ruin 32 wedding dresses. The woman was taken away by the police after the shop assistant alerted them and was detained. She has since said she is sorry for her behavior.

According to the shop owner, the woman’s husband offered to compensate the store for over 60,000 yuan ($9420), but he has not paid a penny yet. The woman allegedly ruined 32 dresses with a total worth of at least 70,000 yuan ($11,000).

On Weibo, thousands of commenters have responded to the incident.

“What on earth was she thinking?” some write, with others saying that the woman should be held criminally liable for her acts and deserves a prison sentence. Others argued that pregnancy hormones could be blamed for the woman’s unreasonable behavior, and said the woman should no go to prison but stay home and rest instead. There was one thing virtually all commenters agreed on, which is that the shop should soon be fully compensated for all damages.

By Manya Koetse

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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